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The 70 Year Old Christmas Tree and other Traditions

cookiecutter.jpgI read an article today about a Japanese family who began a tradition of decorating a small, artificial Christmas tree back before WWII. That tree, and it’s symbol of more joyous times became a rallying point that carried the family thru the heartbreak of WWII, the atomic blast, and other heartbreaking events. Even during the war, when anything western would mean arrest, the family still kept up the tradition. A picture near the article shows an elderly Japanese man decorating a small fragile tree with ornaments.

This will be our son’s first Christmas. He won’t remember this year at all, but his sister’s have already spelled it out for him–and reminded me just in case I forgot(which I didn’t) all the things that we need to do for “Christmas” to happen.

The elves always come after Thanksgiving–no one knows when–but usually appear after someone has been exceptionally nice or things like that. They leave small gifts(found at the Dollar Store at the North Pole I suppose) in stockings and leave as quietly as they came. The elves started that tradition at my grandmother’s house 35 years ago. Back then, they gave scented Avon perfume and soap of course, but it’s still the same concept.

And of course, the Advent calendars that my great-grandparents would get for each of us so we could count down the days until Christmas. This year, our son watched his sister’s open up their calendars, but next year….just you wait!

Then, there’s always Christmas cookies! Though I am now living several states away from the rest of the family, my sister’s and I still continue the tradition started with my great grandmother, who baked extra treats during the Depression to sell to help feed her large family. My grandmother and my mother continued the tradition, as did my mother with us. When she passed away at a young age, my sisters’ and I continued the tradition. Despite divorces, job cuts, illness, or impending arrival of babies, we still got together to bake with all of our children. What a crazy, messy, fun time! Now, we each bake a recipe and box it up and send it to the others as we are far apart. A little bit of love in a box.

Every year, my grandfather would buy us a cookie cutter for Christmas. It was usually of something important that happened during that year, so it was special. As I bake my cookies this year, I pulled out the cookie cutters and told the stories to my children about a great-grandfather they never got to meet and the importance of each one of these special reminders of his love.

We all feel very blessed that we’ve been entrusted with a new life to share these traditions with. And, who knows, perhaps my grandchildren will be doing the same with their children, 70 years from now.


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